Image: Coda Chroma, supplied.
Author: Melody Menu
Welcome to the Killer Female Talent Spotlight: a fortnightly column dedicated to shining a greater light on female and gender non-conforming artists in the music industry.
Coda Chroma are a difficult group to categorise. Incorporating shimmering orchestral arrangements and elemental samples among more traditional indie-rock compositions, the Melbourne-based group defy the rigidity of genre.
The common thread that runs through their songs, is Kate Lucas’ commanding vocals; unspooling across their self-titled debut album, drawn out and held in place by Damien Charles’ nuanced production. For a two-piece creative team, they sure make a lot of noise, with Kate and Damien each performing a number of instruments of each track, alongside a cavalcade of musician friends for a multilayered and dramatic finish.
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Kate Lucas takes us through the band’s creative journey so far.
How did Coda Chroma take shape as a band?
Damien and I met during a recording session for an Irish punk band I was playing in called Wilderbeast – I was the bassist and he was the head engineer. We got chatting and I invited him to a solo show I was putting on, performing a collection of songs I had written. I knew he had worked with incredible artists like Gotye and Hiatus Kaiyote, so afterwards when he offered to record and produce an album with me, I jumped at the chance. Turns out he’s a gun on the guitar too, so we decided to start playing shows together as a duo which was the first incarnation of Coda Chroma as a live band.
How would you describe your music?
We let the songs decide how they should be best produced and arranged rather than trying fit them into a set type or genre. Having said that, I think that overall our music has a psych-pop, indie-folk kind of feeling to it.
What are some of your musical and creative influences?
We both grew up listening to a lot of classical music and 60s pop-rock groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but from there we slightly divert. I listened to a lot of intensely melodic music like the Cranberries and Tori Amos, and went on an almost decade-long jazz bender with artists like Anita O’Day and Nina Simone, whereas Damien got on an electronic music trip, followed by an immersion in dub production. We kind of meet up again with a shared love of bands and artists like Talking Heads, Bjork, David Bowie, The Pixies, and Split Enz.
Tell us a little about the new track ‘Circles’.
I wrote this song during a particularly difficult bout of depression I experienced last year. I was staying in Berlin for a few months with Damien and our two little kids, and was quite overwhelmed with feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing. Music is the most reliable form of self-medication for me, so I immersed myself in writing and emerged with a collection of songs, one of which is the new single ‘Circles.’
Your self-titled debut album released last year has quite a ‘big band’ feel for a two-piece, how do you achieve this sound in the studio and in a live setting?
In the studio all the writing, demoing, arranging, guitars, lead vocals, synths, organs, and sparkly bits are done by Damien and I. For the rest we are lucky enough to have exceptionally talented, musically-gifted friends dotted around Melbourne who allow us to haul them into the studio to do our bidding! Our debut album featured musicians such as Luke Collins (Husky/Ainslie Wills), Hue Blanes (The Melodics), Tash Parker, and on bass guitar a musician who, for contractual reasons, can only be referred to as Yannis Dreamlake (!!??).
Live, we have a great little five-piece crew on stage with Nat Lewis (Ainslie Wills) on keys and BVs , Rohan Sherlock (Human Face/Mista Savona) on bass, Mark Leahy (The Twoks) on drums and of course Damien and I.
What’s next for Coda Chroma?
We’ve got the final leg of our single launch tour in Sydney, then we’re back in the studio for the finishing touches on our second album which will be out in October this year, along with demoing our third album.
Coda Chroma play the Botany View Hotel on Friday May 18.